The rise of fake news highlights the erosion of long-standing institutional bulwarks against misinformation in the internet age. Concern over the problem is global. However, much remains unknown regarding the vulnerabilities of individuals, institutions, and society to manipulations by malicious actors. A new system of safeguards is needed.
The aim of the Science, Technology, and Globalization Project (STG) is to undertake research, conduct training, provide policy advice, and disseminate information on interactions between technological innovation and globalization, with particular emphasis on implications for developing countries.
Agricultural Innovation in Africa
The Agricultural Innovation in Africa project (AIA) is funded by a generous grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the purpose of providing support to efforts that contribute to agricultural science and technology policy improvement through Africa’s Regional Economic Communities (RECs). The Project seeks to engage with policymakers and focus information dissemination on efforts to align science and technology missions and operations with agricultural development goals in the RECs as part of the larger agenda to promote regional economic integration.
The AIA project builds on the findings of the expert report "Freedom to Innovate: Biotechnology in Africa's Development", compiled by a panel of experts (the High Level African Panel on Modern Biotechnology) from both inside and outside Africa. The panel was established by the African Union (AU) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) to provide independent advice on biotechnology. The panel's main recommendations include the need for individual countries in central, eastern, western, northern and southern Africa to work together at the regional level to scale up the development of biotechnology.
For more information, visit the project website.
Innovation and Its Enemies
Innovation and Its Enemies:
- Explains the roots of resistance to new technologies - and why such resistance is not always futile
- Draws on nearly 600 years of economic history to show how the balance of winners and losers shapes technological controversies
- Outlines policy strategies for inclusive innovation to reduce the risks and maximize the benefits of new technologies
The rise of artificial intelligence has rekindled a long-standing debate on the impact of technology on employment. This is just one of many areas where exponential advances in technology signal both hope and fear, leading to public controversy. This book shows that many debates over new technologies are framed in the context of risks to moral values, human health, and environmental safety. But it argues that behind these legitimate concerns often lie deeper, but unacknowledged, socioeconomic considerations. Technological tensions are often heightened by perceptions that the benefits of new technologies will accrue only to small sections of society while the risks will be more widely distributed. Similarly, innovations that threaten to alter cultural identities tend to generate intense social concern. As such, societies that exhibit great economic and political inequities are likely to experience heightened technological controversies.
Drawing from nearly 600 years of technology history, Innovation and Its Enemies identifies the tension between the need for innovation and the pressure to maintain continuity, social order, and stability as one of today's biggest policy challenges. It reveals the extent to which modern technological controversies grow out of distrust in public and private institutions. Using detailed case studies of coffee, the printing press, margarine, farm mechanization, electricity, mechanical refrigeration, recorded music, transgenic crops, and transgenic animals, it shows how new technologies emerge, take root, and create new institutional ecologies that favor their establishment in the marketplace. The book uses these lessons from history to contextualize contemporary debates surrounding technologies such as artificial intelligence, online learning, 3D printing, gene editing, robotics, drones, and renewable energy. It ultimately makes the case for shifting greater responsibility to public leaders to work with scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to manage technological change, make associated institutional adjustments, and expand public engagement on scientific and technological matters.
For more information, visit the book page.
Trading Power: Regional Economic Integration in Africa
The adoption of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) Agreement on 10 June 2015 was a landmark event. It will find its place in the annals of African history along with momentous events such as the independence of Ghana in 1957, the creation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963, and the freeing of Nelson Mandela in 1994. The agreement promises to do for the continent’s economic freedom what those three events did for Africa’s decolonization and political freedom. The impact of the agreement cannot be assessed in isolation of Africa’s quest for a greater role on the global trading scene.
The high number of independent African countries gave the continent disproportionate strength in diplomatic negotiations. But the sovereign autonomy of African states denied the continent the economic clout that was needed to match its numerical capabilities and geographical vastness. It is only through greater economic strength that the continent can hope to realize its full potential as a notable international actor.
The aim of this project is to trace the remarkable journey of institutional innovation that has resulted in the creation of a free trade area covering 26 nations, including 620 million people starting off with a GDP of $1.3 trillion. This diplomatic feat was achieved through a process of experimentation and learning that was initially guided by a common vision reflecting the will of African leaders to consolidate their efforts and reap the benefits of larger economies.
African leaders initially envisioned the creation of a unified continent. But this was not possible until all of Africa was free from colonial rule. This rule left behind a legacy of national economies that largely supplied the industrialized world with raw materials. Efforts to obtain better trading terms through international trade negotiations paid little dividends. The pressure to respond to the needs of a growing population created the imperative to look to regional markets. But these same markets were limited by poor infrastructure, trade barriers and long-standing competition driven by uncertainties in the global trading systems.
The route of political integration as a prerequisite for economic cooperation did not seem feasible despite a few isolated efforts. Regional integration itself dates back to the colonial days. In addition to dozens of independent national economies, Africa was also encumbered by a large number of overlapping regional bodies that served a diversity of functions ranging from security to desertification control. But the motivating force among these functions was regional trade.
This project underscores the primacy of trade as the currency of regional economic integration. It is the motherboard upon which many other regional activities will be processed. Economic freedom is emerging as the dynamo that will drive other areas of continental integration. Trade, however, is viewed in a broad sense as development. The developmental approach to integration in Africa has at least three main pillars: market integration, and industrial and infrastructure development. While market integration creates large markets to support economies of scale and critical levels of investment, it is industrialisation that creates the products to be traded and the much needed jobs. Infrastructure is required to provide the nuts and bolts that actually knit together the regional markets, for without interconnectivity through surface and air transportation and information and communication technologies, there would be no market to talk of. Infrastructure covers critical components of promoting competitiveness for industrialisation, particularly ubiquitous and affordable energy, and rural infrastructure for agricultural development covering water and damming, fertilizers, seeds, and extension services. In this regard then, the continental and regional programs for industrial, infrastructure and agricultural development, namely, the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa Programme (AIDA), the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), will be essential components of economic integration in Africa, operating as an integral whole with market integration programmes to create the Tripartite and Continental free trade areas.
This African approach vastly differs from pure free trade agreements that cover only market integration, sometimes exclusively the elimination of customs duties on trade in goods among the participating countries, and other times extending to other border measures relating to customs procedures and standards, as well as behind-the-border regulatory issues. Modern free trade areas cover services and investment issues as well, because services facilitate trade in goods and constitute anything up to 50 percent on average of the gross national outputs of most African economies. The importance of investment in assisting economic development cannot be overemphasized. The approach in Africa, however, is still much broader than any free trade areas that are not complemented by comprehensive infrastructure, industrialisation and agricultural development programmes. Trade in Africa is developmental, and the Tripartite Free Area will be part and parcel of the industrial, infrastructure and agricultural development programmes of Africa as implemented in the regional economic communities including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that make up the Tripartite initiative. This developmental approach to regional integration has been codified in the agreed template for continental integration formulated under the Organisation of African Unity and continued under its successor organisation, the African Union.
For more information, download the book prospectus.
Aviation, Logistics, and Innovation in Africa
Africa’s regional economic integration represents the continent’s most ambitious political innovation since the wave of decolonization that started in the late 1950s. The adoption of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) in June 2015 created a market of 640 million people in 26 countries with a total GDP of $1.5 trillion. If the TFTA were a country its trade volume would make the 13th largest economy in the world. Much of the discussion on regional integration has focused on the free movement of goods and services.
But underlying the movement is the role of critical infrastructure, especially logistics and transportation, energy and telecommunications. The rapid adoption of mobile technology and the wave of large-scale investments in fiber optic cables have demonstrated the critical role that infrastructure can play in regional integration.
The aim of this project is to undertake research, training and outreach related to the role of aviation, logistics and innovation in Africa. The project is guided by the view that the logistics industry has two strategic links with regional integration. First, expansion of the industry (in its fullness to include passenger, cargo, communications and technological services) represents an effective way to promote regional integration. Second, implementing continental commitments such as the Yamoussoukro Decision on open sky in turn helps to expand the aviation and logistics industry. The industry will be essential in the implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) due to be launched in 2017.
The project explores how to foster mutual reinforcement between regional integration, logistics and the aviation industry. Emphasis is put on how the sector can serve as a center for the diffusion of engineering, technological, business and scientific capabilities into the wider economy. It covers activities such the need for the establishment of world-class research and training facilities in African universities to advance aviation and logistics. Such measures will help to position Africa as a global player as argued in the forthcoming book, Trading Power: Regional Economic Integration in Africa co-authored by Professor Calestous Juma.
The implementation of the project is supported by an international advisory group of experts and practitioners on aviation, logistics and innovation.
How Economies Succeed: Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Prosperity
The STG Project is currently conducting research on economic development and innovation. It argues that Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter’s ideas about economic transformation provide a serious intellectual foundation for understanding the role of innovation and entrepreneurship in the success of economies and the spread of prosperity. The ideas, however, need to be reinterpreted in light of contemporary developments. This research reconstructs Schumpeter’s original ideas and expands them to accommodate new thinking about the role of innovation and entrepreneurship in development. It also provides a critical review of many of the ideas that have been advanced to inform development policy in emerging nations.
How Economies Succeed is a not a dogmatic appeal to Schumpeter’s original ideas. It builds, however, on some of the enduring aspects of his theory to weave a new intellectual tapestry that reflects contemporary challenges and opportunities. It goes beyond Schumpeter’s original ideas and offers additional perspectives on the role innovation and entrepreneurship in development, with particular emphasis on public policy implications.